Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses

Leaving the New World, entering history: Alvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca, John Smith and the problems of describing the New World

María del Carmen Gómez Galisteo



Spanish conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca and British explorer John Smith went to the New World for different reasons but both shared the experience of being a captive to the Native Americans. After their return to Europe, both of them undertook the task of putting pen to paper to describe their New World experiences so as to inform their fellow countrymen. Writing in different countries and separated by a century of colonial discoveries and experiences, nevertheless, they encountered very similar difficulties in being trusted by professional historians. Both had to strive in order to be regarded as authoritative and valid sources of knowledge about a continent where they, contrary to most historians, had actually traveled to and lived in. This essay examines what their problems were and the strategies they made use of in order to persuade their readers of their trustworthiness.


Colonial discoveries; New World; Description; Historical veracity; Persuasion; Historians; Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Álvar; Smith, John


Copyright (c) 2009 María del Carmen Gómez Galisteo

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